IBM Buys into Weather; Watson Gets a Boost

Insights from big data around the Internet of Things got yet another big boost yesterday.

The IBM acquisition of the Weather Company’s digital platform represents a lot more than pushing IBM into the weather forecasting business.

The acquisition is not a total surprise, since the companies have been working closely together for some time.

One longer term clue was the work the IoT group at IBM has been doing to track weather in relative real time so that renewable energy companies can be more efficient in predicting and gauging energy usage, a program well underway for many months.

For that massive project, IBM created technology to allow sky-aimed cameras to real-time measure cloud data, process it and link it into the cloud (the other one). I saw an impressive live demonstration of this a few months back with results showing improved accuracy of rain forecasting by specific locations.

That system tied into messaging so that a consumer could receive a Tweet or text messaging suggesting if they were planning to do their laundry today, they could receive a discount if they did it between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. That would be a time that the weather forecasting system suggested energy demand would be lowest, thereby balancing energy consumption. The messaging system was automated.

One shorter term clue of the deal was that Weather Company CEO David Kenny was the opening keynote of the IBM Insight conference in Las Vegas this week and was highly visible with Bob Picciano, IBM senior vice president analytics, who ran entire show.

The duo appeared together again yesterday morning to make the joint announcement on stage. And based on the highly produced video that went along with it, the deal has been known for some time, just not announced.

The real significance of the acquisition is the linkage with IBM’s Watson technology, adding the real-time computational capabilities of the Weather Company to extend it well beyond weather.

IBM also said it plans to further develop the data-driven advertising platform of The Weather Company.

That’s just the tip of this new IoT iceberg.

2 comments about "IBM Buys into Weather; Watson Gets a Boost".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, October 29, 2015 at 11:28 a.m.

    IBM's track record over the years in getting the most value out of its acquisitions has not exactly been stellar. The rigid corporate culture has tended to stifle the very innovation IBM sought to adopt and nurture, with the innovators ultimately disappearing after being acquired. It's sort of like the Borg Collective from Star Trek Next Generation. Anyone remember what happened with XyWRite after IBM tried turning them into Displaywrite 4? Is there anyone left fromPrice Waterhouse Consulting since they became the core of IBM Global Services? Much more recently, how have things been going for SPSS, Coremetrics, and so on?

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, October 30, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

    Legit line of examples you cite, Henry. In this case, IBM already has been tapping into the weather technology for a massive weather project, as mentioned, which is very impressive, from what I have seen. Guess we will see how they leverage the Weather technology in other areas, though the company is moving quite agressively across a wide spectrum of IoT innitiatives. We will be watching that space.

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